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EDUCATION POLICYMAKERS NETWORK

About

Why Do We Need an Education Policymakers Network?

We are living in a time of convergent crises: the global coronavirus pandemic, the climate crisis, the struggle for racial justice, the polarization of societies and a global learning crisis. Alongside these crises the Fourth Industrial Revolution is changing the very nature of work and economies around the world. The workforce of tomorrow will require new skills and unprecedented nimbleness.

Taken together, these challenges place exceptional demands on educational policymakers across the world, many of whom may have been trained quite traditionally and have narrower sector-specific mandates. Education reform at any point in time is challenging, complex, and requires sustained energy and political will. It is particularly challenging at this point in time because of the pandemic, however for all of the reasons above, education reform is absolutely essential.

Education reform that is focused on developing a breadth of skills within education systems is thus a necessary and legitimate means to tackle all of these crises – as a response to learning and well-being needs during and beyond the pandemic; as a forward-thinking and proactive approach for developing behaviors that can help us address the climate crisis and structural racial inequality; and as a component of fairer, more compassionate societies in the future. 

We believe that a network approach – bringing together policymakers from different countries who are willing to work, learn and innovate together through the Education Policymakers Network – will help support and sustain that much-needed education reform. 

WHY A BREADTH OF SKILLS APPROACH? 

Children require a breadth of skills to navigate an uncertain and complex world. There has been growing interest in achieving and measuring learning beyond basic numeracy and literacy, and the challenge has the attention of many actors already – educators, parents, and policymakers are all seeking ways to help children develop more diverse skills.

The five skills for holistic development (cognitive, creative, physical, social, emotional) each contain sub-skills that have particular importance for different challenges (for example social and emotional for future of work or education equity).

WHY NOW?

The current convergence of crises has put the spotlight on systemic risks affecting work, education, and next-generation life chances. It is becoming imperative to support comprehensive education reform in multiple countries around a holistic agenda focused on a range of skills and competencies.

For several years, increasing numbers of policymakers are talking publicly about the need to equip learners for contemporary and future challenges. A growing body of evidence shows that social and emotional learning (SEL) can not only help young people acquire the skills to thrive amidst rapid technological change and shape new jobs and career pathways, but also improve cognitive skills, build resilience, foster empathy, improve life outcomes, and develop the creative skills essential for transforming one’s understanding of, or relationship to, the world, thus helping to build healthier and more peaceful societies.

WHY THIS AGE RANGE?

The Education Policymakers Network is focused on education reform that will affect three- to 12-year-old students. There are many reasons for wanting to focus on this age range, including the fact that children need skills and mindsets that will help them learn throughout life and navigate all manner of uncertainties from an early age. This is the optimum period in children’s development for them to develop behaviors that will stay with them in later life. There is also a strategic advantage to focusing on education reforms targeted at primary school age children for the simple fact that more primary age children attend school than other age groups.